Warren unveils plan to address substandard military housing

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall In shift, top CEOs say shareholder value not top goal MORE (D-Mass.) on Friday unveiled a plan to address widespread issues in military housing run by private contractors, underscoring her efforts to promote new ideas and policies in her campaign for the White House.

Warren, who has been notable in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in outlining policy goals, discussed the plan in a Medium post shared by her campaign press office.

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It was also unveiled as a Senate bill co-sponsored by three fellow members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador Senate committee advances nomination of general accused of sexual assault House passes bill requiring CBP to enact safety, hygiene standards MORE (D-N.M.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever White House offers reassurances amid recession fears as 2020 candidates sound alarm MORE (D-N.Y.), who is also running for president.

“Today I’m rolling out a plan to improve our military housing, protect families from abuse, and hold private developers accountable for the promises they make to those who serve our country,” Warren wrote in the post.

“The way I see it, this is not complicated. It’s not even a close call. No matter where they are stationed, the very least we owe our military personnel is a safe, affordable place to live.”

A companion bill in the House is being sponsored by Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandWarren tells Native Americans: 'I have made mistakes' Warren unveils Native American policy plan Booker eyes farm conservation, reforestation and wetlands restoration in climate plan MORE (D-N.M.).

A 2018 Reuters investigation followed by a series of congressional hearings have unveiled deplorable living conditions in military housing, including black mold, rodent infestations and collapsing ceilings.

The issue has prompted bipartisan outrage, with lawmakers vowing to address it in this year’s annual defense policy bill.

The Pentagon has also proposed some solutions, including a tenant bill of rights that would allow tenants to withhold rent and move at no cost if repairs aren’t made.

Warren’s plan, too, includes a tenant bill of rights.

In addition, the bill would mandate regular and unannounced inspections of the housing by independent, certified inspectors.

The plan would also establish a resident survey, public database of complaints and an annual report on housing conditions.

The Pentagon would also have to publish the details of housing contracts in the Federal Register and require that each landlord annually submit to the Pentagon financial statements that would then be published publicly.

It would also mandate that leases be standardized across the Defense Department and would require the Defense secretary to establish formal written guidance for entering into and renewing contracts, including the ability to withhold payment or rescind a contract if a housing provider breaches the terms.

The bill would also cover medical costs of anyone with health issues caused by the unsafe housing conditions. 

“All three of my brothers served, so I know the responsibility we have to our service members, veterans, and their families,” Warren wrote in her post. “Failing to provide adequate housing impacts morale and negatively affects retention and readiness. Most importantly, it’s a breach of trust owed to those that volunteer to defend our country.”